27th February 2024 6:24 pm
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Titanic search boosts game about underwater nightmare

  • Horror video game Iron Lung saw its second-most concurrent players ever during the rising interest around the Ocean Gate Titanic submarine incident.
  • The game sees the player bolted into a poorly-made submarine and tasked to explore the bottom of an ocean, which many have linked to what happened with the Ocean Gate vessel.
  • About the rise in sales, Iron Lung developer David Zsymanksi said “This feels so wrong.”

The news this week has been dominated by the story of the ill-fated Ocean Gate submarine and its passengers. After days of a cross-Atlantic search that captured the imagination of millions around the world, it is now believed that the submarine experienced a catastrophic implosion due to a hull breach on its way down to the wreck of the Titanic.

All on board would have sadly lost their lives in a span of around 30 milliseconds. At the least they would have not had much time to experience any fear or anxiety prior to the incident.

The story of Ocean Gate and the Titanic voyage, however, has seen the sales and concurrent playerbase of indie game Iron Lung, which will give you plenty of fear and anxiety. It is a horror game made by a single developer in David Szymanski, who has distinguished himself on the indie scene with titles such as Dusk.

Iron Lung was released in 2022 and quickly became very popular among streamers and YouTubers. A sci-fi horror, the game sees the player in control of a rusty, unsafe submarine exploring an ocean of blood on a faraway moon.

As the player gets deeper into the ocean and the game, the submarine – the Iron Lung – will begin to break apart, which the player will have to repair or else lose the game. There are obvious parallels between what happens in Iron Lung to what people imagine happened to the Ocean Gate submarine, sans the sci-fi experience and underwater aliens.

In Szymanski’s game, for example, the player is bolted into the submarine and is unable to escape. The real-life Ocean Gate vessel was also bolted closed before it began to descend.

One Twitter user asks Szymanski if he based the horror game on real stories about submarines and the Titanic submarine. He replied that Iron Lung was instead “a scenario involving a sub that was as nightmarish as I could dream up.”

According to the lifetime concurrent Steam playerbase, Iron Lung saw on 22nd June 2023, its second highest-ever total players. Its largest ever amount of players was the day of its release on 28th March 2022.

Note the sharp increase on the far right. It coincides with the news of the demise of those onboard the Ocean Gate sub.

Szymanski himself showed that the news of the real-life submarine emergency led to a boost in sales for the game. It also started trending on Twitter for several days, with users making memes of jokes comparing the Ocean Gate submarine with the submarine in the game.

Units sold for Iron Lung saw a boost in the last several days thanks to news about the submarine. Image – David Szymanski.

“This feels so wrong,” Szymanski said about the uptick in sales for the title. The dev has pointed to concerns about how his followers are reacting to the news. In the review section of Iron Lung on Steam, several of the latest reviews are all dark jokes about Ocean Gate.

The latest reviews on Iron Lung. Big oof.

This is not the first time an important news event spiked sales and interest in a videogame. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Plague Inc., a game about building your own world-killing virus, became the best-selling mobile app in China.

The game also saw a wide boost in players in other markets too.

[Image – Ocean Gate]

Luis Monzon

Luis Monzon

Journalist. Covering education, AAA gaming and consumer tech. Reach me at Luis@htxt.co.za.

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